The difference between international health and travel insurance


In this post we highlight a number of important differences between travel insurance and international health insurance, and suggest some key considerations before moving or travelling overseas.

The difference between international health insurance and travel insurance is a source of confusion for many. Although both are intended for people spending time abroad, the level of cover and intended purpose of each plan is significantly different. Not understanding the difference may leave you in a difficult situation overseas.

International health insurance is designed to offer a comprehensive level of healthcare cover to those relocating from their home country for a sustained period of time, whereas travel insurance is geared towards providing cover for emergency treatment while you are in another country for a short period of time.

Travel insurance is designed to cover you for trips of limited duration. It is intended for holidaymakers and short term trips abroad, and offers protection against travel related issues such as:

  • Cancellations
  • Loss of luggage
  • Loss of personal belongings
  • Emergency medical treatment

Many people believe that standard travel insurance will provide adequate cover in a foreign country, but are not aware of its limitations.

In terms of medical cover, travel insurance is intended to provide cover for short-term emergency medical treatment, within your specified area of cover. The aim of which is to get you well enough to return home.

Where required, travel insurance will not cover long term medical treatment. In this instance you will usually be expected to return to your home country to continue treatment once you are medically fit to do so. Cover ceases once you are back in your country of residence

International health insurance is designed for those living or working overseas for a prolonged period of time. It covers treatment for both emergency and routine healthcare, and provides expats with flexibility in terms of choice of doctor and treatment facility, with the ability to receive treatment anywhere within their region of cover.

For those relocating or who have a home abroad, and would like comprehensive medical cover in their home country as well as other countries where they regularly spend time, international health insurance would be required.

When experiencing a medical emergency, or even routine medical care, in a country where you are not familiar with the health system, and where you do not speak the language, international health insurance cover will ensure you get the medical attention you need.

International health insurance cover varies depending on selected plans, but often includes:

  • Hospital stay
  • Routine check-ups
  • Cover for pre-existing conditions
  • Cover for chronic conditions
  • Choice of medical providers

Our standard plans are modular so you can choose the combination of cover that best suits you and your families needs. In addition to the Core plan, options include:

The flexible nature of these plans, mean they can be tailored to meet your specific needs, making the right combination of cover for you and your family more financially accessible. Core plan and out-patient plan deductibles offer an opportunity to reduce premiums, as can a careful consideration of the region of cover. For example, taking ‘Worldwide excluding USA’ instead of ‘Worldwide’ will alter premium significantly.

As an expat, it can be tempting to try to keep costs down by opting to rely on local healthcare when you are abroad. However, should you fall ill, you may find that the local healthcare options do not meet your needs.

Depending on where you are moving to and your individual circumstances, you may not be entitled to free or subsidised healthcare. Without an expatriate health plan, you may incur expensive medical costs.

Before venturing abroad, it is important to weigh up your options and ensure that you have adequate health insurance you can rely on. Having the correct cover in place, will give you peace of mind that the medical needs of you and your family will be taken care of.

If you would like a quote for expat international health insurance, please click the link below...

→ Individual International Health Insurance quote

For employers wishing to purchase international Health Insurance for their employees, please click the link below...

→ Corporate Group Scheme International Health Insurance quote